“Tennis is an costly sport. At 12 or 13, I knew that I’m not going to make it since you want some huge cash to change into knowledgeable participant and I did not have assist,” stated the Dutchman, as he watched his ward Miriam Bianca Bulgaru of Romania compete within the $25,000 KPIT-MSLTA ITF Cup on the Deccan Gymkhana in Pune on Saturday.
Having clearly outlined his long-term objective, on the age of 15, Wenders joined an academy in Belgium the place he doubled up as a coach for the children.
“I educated as a participant as a result of I knew that if I’m going to educate among the ladies within the WTA, I should hit with them as a result of it’s tough to discover a hitting associate on the tour,” he stated.
In truth, considered one of his high-profile assignments on the WTA Tour was as hitting associate for Jelena Ostapenko, the 23-year-old 2017 French Open champion from Latvia.
Wenders additionally served as assistant coach to Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit briefly earlier than working as coach with Demi Schuurs, the 27-year-old Dutch participant who reached a career-high No. 7 in doubles in 2018.
Schuurs, who reached the 2021 Australian Open semifinals with Nicole Melichar, is at present ranked No. 12 and has 13 WTA titles to her credit score.
So, why would he, having labored on the top-most degree of the sport with established winners, come down to educate gamers on the decrease rung?
“For me, two issues matter essentially the most. First is respect, and second, whether or not I like what I’m doing. If I do not get respect and don’t love what I’m doing, it does not matter to me in case you are within the high 10,” he stated.
On court docket, Bulgaru saved blowing cold and warm, squandering benefit after benefit towards Ukrainian Marianna Zakarlyuk in a semifinal conflict.
If one wanted proof of Wenders’ means to learn a participant’s recreation and the stream of a match, it got here within the second set when Bulgaru conceded a break whereas being 3-1 up with some poor shot choice.
“That is how we lose a match,” Wenders muttered.
Because it turned out, the Romanian’s recreation unravelled dramatically, permitting Zakarlyuk to rally to a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory in three hours and 13 minutes.
Wenders later defined: “The primary set should not have gone to 7-6, she ought to have gained it 6-4. However then you’re up a break within the second set, and also you attempt to play a drop shot off a sluggish ball! Had you performed a top-spin forehand to any a part of the court docket, it could have been 4-1.”
Bulgaru, 22, allowed Zakarlyuk again into the sport when she made three double-faults to drop serve within the eight recreation of the primary set.
Within the tie-break, it was Zakarlyuk’s flip to waste a 4-0 lead and give up the set with a double-fault.
Because the match, Zakarlyuk steadied her recreation, started to deal with her nerves higher and as her confidence grew, started to ship her serves easily and assault Bulgaru’s too predictable second serve.
The Romanian’s recreation saved swinging from one excessive to the opposite, blasting return winners on one event and crashing her forehands into the web on one other.
But, Bulgaru refused to surrender as she fought again from 1-5 right down to make it 4-5 within the decider. After which, she choked on her returns to let her opponent seal the match.
“I noticed I could make a comeback, I saved 4 match factors (within the seventh and ninth video games) however then I obtained shaken. I’m not pleased with myself for the way in which I performed the final recreation.”
Wenders introduced the bigger image.
“A lot of the gamers do not make sufficient cash at this degree. Singles semifinals and doubles closing this week, she (Bulgaru) would nonetheless be shedding cash paying for my journey, lodging and meals,” he stated.
“They can not afford a coach, so there may be none to inform them. They do not know stay knowledgeable life. They do not work arduous, they do not know what to not do, what to not eat.”
Possibly, given his present to learn the sport and the participant’s thoughts, he might help them rise from the peculiar and attain place of respect and success.